Leagues and Governing Bodies

Spectacle around NFL schedule release shows league's cultural influence

The NFL officially unveiled the ’22 schedule on Thursday night after several days of games slowly leaking out, and the announcement "continued the NFL's trend of turning off-season events … into spectacles as it tightens its grip as the top sports league" in the U.S., according to Emmanuel Morgan of the N.Y. TIMES. The league "built suspense" in recent weeks by "revealing certain games on morning shows with broadcast partners and previewing marquee matchups on social media" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/13). In Seattle, Larry Stone notes the NFL has "managed to take a slate of 17 games for which the opponent and even the site was already known, and fostered a feverish anticipation for its revelation of the date." Stone: "We had known for weeks the 'who' and the 'where,' yet they created a daylong Event, capital E, out of the 'when.'" Stone: "If you wonder why the NFL is the No. 1 American sport with a bullet, here is an essential illustration of their genius in meting out its news in such a fashion as to sustain interest in virtually every month of the year" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/13). In Charlotte, Ellis Williams writes the NFL is "king," as people are talking about football games “that will not be played for four-plus months." This is "fandom and a part of what truly makes the NFL a 12-month season" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/13).

CHRISTMAS IN MAY: ESPN’s Joe Buck talked about the release of the NFL schedule and said, “This was a big day, obviously, for everybody involved with the NFL. But I know for Troy and me, we’ve been talking nonstop about what to expect, what kind of schedule are we going to get.” Buck: “It was like opening up Christmas presents today when the schedule came out. We're thrilled” (“NFL Schedule Release,” ESPN, 5/12).

NONE OF THIS MEANS ANYTHING: Amazon’s Al Michaels noted the NFL has “gotten to the point where if you see this schedule come out, you say, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see that game.’” Michaels: “The game might turn out to be so-so, and then you look down the schedule and you see some other games and you go, ‘Well, that doesn’t mean anything,’ and it turns out to be a barnburner. This is where we are in today’s NFL world” (“NFL Schedule Release ’22,” NFL Network, 5/12).

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